Hi, my name is LaWanda, and I am married to a dreamer.
It’s a phrase that has often run through my mind, but I have rarely spoken aloud. If you too are married to a dreamer, you understand the magnitude of this phrase: it can carry great blessing, or great burden, and more often than not, both at the same time!
It takes a measure of fortitude and inner strength to be married to one who has a knack for seeing possibilities in places others render barren. If you could easily replace my name with yours in that opening statement, then you know this tension between blessing and burden very well. I now know, it is very possible to bear this tension with grace and confidence while being a source of support and encouragement for your dreamer.
By definition, the term dreamer can generate a very negative perception. I’ve learned that labeling my husband as such can lead someone who doesn’t even know him to think he’s irresponsible, unreliable, or even lazy! A dreamer can, in fact, be someone who lives in a fantasy world, and lacks the focus and wherewithal to actually accomplish his dreams. But with the right support, a little guidance, and a lot of accountability, even THAT dreamer can move from fantasy to reality.
Why him being a dreamer is a good thing:
Our dreamer? His ideas are big and audacious. He sees solutions for needs people don’t even realize they have. Opportunities where others see status quo. Possibilities where we see none.
As a dreamer, he has some degree of internal drive and motivation. He’s passionate, creative, and resilient. He welcomes challenges.
Dreamers believe in finding a way to do the impossible—no, wait—dreamers don’t believe in the word impossible. They have a tremendous amount of faith and possess a strong conviction about providing for needs that may (or may not) exist. Dreamers are constantly seeking to improve the world. Maybe your dreamer is not an innovator, but quite enterprising nonetheless. Perhaps his dreams involve achieving a certain rank in his industry or organization. Regardless, if your man’s a dreamer, you probably have real go-getter on your hands! Yes. Our dreamer is more of a visionary.
When him being a dreamer is not such a good thing:
Left unchecked, his continuous fascination with new ideas and non-stop brainstorming can result in a cycle of unfinished projects, half-baked plans, and failed inventions.
There is a fine line between enabling irresponsible, high-risk behaviors, fueled by short-sighted decisions, and encouraging entrepreneurial-mindedness and the kind of creativity characterized by planning and calculated risk taking. So, what do you do when your sweetheart is a dreamer, but you don’t support his dream?
How to Support him:
- Pray! Always pray first. Pray for you, and pray for him.
For you: Be honest with yourself and with God. What prevents you from feeling like you can get behind his dream and support him? Do you lack confidence in his ability to build a business, or is it a more general belief that it’s not possible to work for yourself? Are you scared that if he pursues his dream, it will impact your ability to pursue your own dreams? Are you angry or resentful toward him for putting his passion above things you consider more important? As you pray, ask God to help you with your complaints, your faith, and for help understanding your role in your dreamer’s process.
For Him: Of course, you want to pray for your dreamer as well. I emphasize “for”, because there was a season when I’d pray about him: about his stubbornness, about his disorganization, about his audacity to pursue something so out of the box. Pray for him! Pray that he would submit his dream and his plans to God; after all, our dreams tend to work out best when they originate with God in the first place. Pray that he would be open and be obedient to the Lord’s instruction. Ask God how, about what or when you should raise questions and concerns regarding his ideas and/or his approach. Pray for the divine relationships and resources he needs to pull it off. Pray for the work of his hands to be established and succeed. Pray sis, pray! It is especially challenging to continue to pray for him when you are feeling the pressure financially, or trying to manage everything else in your lives while also working a job to help support his great dream chase. But if you can discern when to pray and release to Jesus from when to pray and raise things to your husband, you will see God move on your behalf and on his. It’s not always easy, but God is faithful.
- Reframe how you look at his personal qualities and characteristics!
Realize that every strength has its weakness and visa versa. Look for the positives. Remind yourself of his strengths. Idea generation is usually a strength most dreamers possess. To avoid shiny-object-syndrome, they just need a process to capture those ideas, to develop a plan, and employ a process of execution so he can make progress toward the end goal.
You have to be very careful in how you encourage him in the areas he may be lacking. If he’s settled in on an idea, but seems to be flailing in execution, you might offer up some guidance, but don’t be overzealous about jumping in with suggestions. Nagging him will make him feel like you don’t believe in him, or that you don’t trust him to work through it. Listening to his ideas or his plans without constantly pointing out the holes will encourage him to continue bouncing ideas off of you, and give you the chance to offer up constructive feedback. Ask questions…just make sure they are real questions and not the kind that suggest a forgone conclusion. Constantly pointing out why his idea won’t work, will put you on the “enemy” side of his dream, and shut down the communication line between you. Yes, you need to be communicating financial concerns, work-life balance issues, and the like, but be mindful of how you raise them. Pray for the words to speak, when to speak them, and how! Sometimes tough conversations need to be had, but you always want to convey that you are his ally.
- Allow him to play to his strengths, then help him manage his weaknesses.
My husband is a creative, and he’s extremely artistic. The “Mrs. Hanes translation”: my husband is extremely disorganized! Of course, HE knows where everything is in his office, but I walk in and immediately have to lock my gaze on his face, or turn around to leave and close the door. Why? Because I associate his disorganization outwardly with my assumption that it’s an indication of his internal state. In instances like this—when you notice your husband struggles with something you think might improve his productivity or success, you have a couple of options. You might share your observations along with ideas that could help, or you might offer to help him hedge or fortify that weakness. Just understand, though, he must find his own way. Try to walk alongside him rather than push or drag him to what you think is best.
Initially, I tried to convince TJ to start networking. My thought: networking often provides a great ‘think tank’ type of environment for entrepreneurs. Being with others in business can help him become a more rounded businessman (which would surely include getting more organized, right?). You guessed it, he is not a big fan of networking. However, when he was ready, and when he found the need for it, he began to put himself in places where he could connect, learn, and share with others in business.
Like many areas in which he’s grown over the years, TJ’s organization has improved with much help from the Holy Spirit, a few good mentors, a couple of nifty apps, and even me (and The Container Store)!
What being an enemy of his dream does to him:
During one of our strong discussions regarding his relentless pursuit of building a business, TJ said to me, “my bible says that God is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that I could ask, think, dream, or imagine! If I can dream it, then God can do even more than that! Yes, I’m dreaming big, but this is not too big for him.” He played the God card—convincingly. The determination in his eyes, and persistence in his voice, multiplied by the conviction of the Holy Spirit in my heart quickly led me to think I was not just resisting TJ…I was resisting God. Scary thought, right? Back to the prayer closet, missy.
Could it be that God has shaped your husband for the dream that resides in his heart? Fulfilling this dream could be an expression of his identity—a fulfilling of his (and HIS) purpose. Proverbs 37:4 says “delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Could God have placed this dream in his heart?
As his wife, you are the most influential force in his life. Your lack of support for his dream erodes his confidence. He might dig in and put his head down to do the work, but trust me when I tell you, he will never operate at his full capacity knowing that you don’t support him. Why? He’ll always feel a divided allegiance: his commitment to his dream will feel like it’s in direct competition with his commitment to you. He won’t feel like he can trust you with his dream, or the part of his heart in which it resides. He may be less communicative and more guarded about it. He’ll experience an increased pressure to perform—not necessarily to prove you wrong—but just so he can “win back” your respect and admiration.
Worst of all, when we don’t support our husband’s God-given dream, we risk quenching the work of God in his life, which is quite ironic. Don’t we always pray for God to move in the heart of our hubbies?
What believing in his dream does for him:
As TJ so passionately reminded me, the Bible conveys some seriously hefty promises that God has offered to us. Believing in your husband’s God-given dreams allows him to stretch his faith! Not only his, though; your faith will be stretched too. How’s that for growing together?
My husband worked diligently, and with confidence knowing that the most important person in his world believed in him. He was free to relentlessly pursue the dream. He didn’t feel pressured to perform as if I had him under a microscope. He shared his ideas, his successes, and even his setbacks with me more openly. I prayed with him. He trusted me enough to invite me into that intimate space with God regarding his dream, and I had the privilege of letting him hear my support and petitioning on his behalf. We were a team. And while I never ordered a supply, helped with a client, or handled the books, I was a full partner. How do I know? He told me so.
I’ve read that we as wives are responsible for so much of our man’s growth. I don’t know if I believe we carry the brunt of that responsibility, but I will tell you I am a believer that we carry a huge influence. Could your support be the game-changer for your husband in achieving his dream?
P.S. I write this having lived on both the non-supportive and later the supportive side of my husband’s dream. I made every possible mistake in the book and I watched my husband struggle to make his first business thrive. When he later sold that business and changed the direction of our future, I was humbled and convicted a thousand times over! You best believe when he started the next business, I knew exactly what NOT to do, and I found a better way. It is from the stark contrast in experiences and their results that I share this post.
My prayers are with you as you navigate the praying field to walk along side your dreamer!